March is National Nutrition Month

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

March is National Nutrition Month, which is a nice time of the year to reevaluate our health goals. This is especially important in case those we made in January for the new year have taken a backseat to busy schedules, or we’ve slipped back into unhealthy food ruts for comfort or due to stress. Junk food, fast food, and red meat are all things most people realize they should avoid, but avoiding certain foods isn’t the only key to staying healthy. It’s more important to focus on your health as a whole, and how making smart health choices in several areas of your life can provide multiple benefits for the long haul.

Eat More Plants

Sounds pretty simple, right? That’s because it actually is. When you choose to eat more plants at each meal, you crowd out the unhealthier foods like dairy, meat, eggs, processed foods, fast food, pre-made meals and stuff that really provides your body with nothing but inflammatory, dense sources of calories. Remember, calories equal energy. Your body needs calories to provide you with energy, so be sure you choose quality calories versus just focusing on the number of calories a food has. A 400-500 calorie meal made from plants like leafy greens, vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts and seeds are going to be more usable for your body than 400-500 calories from a medium fast food French fry and some ketchup or a small measly cheeseburger.


Busy schedules, exciting nights out and stress can all keep you from getting the rest you need, but this comes with a huge price. Research has shown that even just 30 minutes less of sleep one or two nights a week can lead to weight gain, changes in insulin levels, and prevent quality mental focus the next day. Over time it can even lead to heart disease, diabetes and obesity. To keep your digestive organs, hormones, and your brain working like they should, your body has to have a reset. Think of sleeping just like working out – it works around the clock for you to improve all other areas of your life. Put it in your calendar just like you would a meeting and make it happen! Here are some foods to improve your body’s natural melatonin production if you struggle with falling asleep at night.

Fiber-Packed Breakfast

Most people know they should eat breakfast, – no news flash there – but what many people don’t consider is the importance of a fiber-packed breakfast. A piece of fruit is nice in the morning, but it’s not going to do much for you an hour later. Your body needs a good bit of calories, ample amounts of fiber, and a little protein to get it going and to keep you full. Fiber takes a longer time to digest and also stabilizes your blood sugar. If you have a hard time adjusting to more fiber, start out slow but make it a point to increase it daily. A green smoothie, oatmeal, or some fruit chopped into a bowl with some coconut yogurt, flax, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds are all great options that might be easier on your stomach than large amounts of something harsher like wheat bran cereal.

Don’t Fall for Gimmicks

Gimmicks like strict juice cleanses, completely avoiding food groups (like fat and carbs), going on a liquid diet like some celebrities do, or feeling the need to only eat one food for days on end (like bananas) are not healthy, balanced ways to take care of yourself. If you want to have a green juice or green smoothie, and then be sure you’re still eating meals and consuming a variety of other foods too.

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